GREG LOWER

ERIE – Neosho County Commissioners reorganized for 2021 at Tuesday’s meeting.

The commission voted newly-seated member Nic Galemore as chairman, and approved paid holidays and the accounts payable schedule. Three of this year’s holidays are on Saturdays, so the courthouse will be closed the following Monday.

Committee appointments will be taken up at the next commission meeting at 2 pm Tuesday. Commissioners voted to waive generally-accepted accounting practices, which is an annual measure. County Counselor Seth Jones said past commissions have delayed the waiver until late in the year, which annoys the auditor.

Commissioners also approved resolutions for workers compensation through the Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties and to update the dispatching advisory board, since Chanute has left the county’s dispatching services and are now independently dispatching emergency services.

In other business, commissioners discussed the pay policy for county employees quarantined because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, the county was supposed to receive reimbursements in the form of tax credits, but federal policy has changed and employees now face using sick time or vacation time.

The commission voted to reappoint Bruce Jackson and Bruce Mullen to the Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center Board of Trustees, retroactive to the end of their previous term March 31, 2020. The two were temporarily reappointed until Dec. 1, and their terms will end in 2024. 

Commissioner Paul Westhoff said he wants to see more areas of the county represented on the seven-member hospital board.

The commission appointed Rick Hines as superintendent of the Sheltz Levee District, to replace the superintendent who resigned.

Commissioners approved a change order for project to update the courthouse heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The order covers asbestos removal for $2,558. Commissioners voted to replace a spark control for $1,500 and a regulator for $1,275, but at the end of the meeting voted 2-0 to terminate Herb Ford’s contract as HVAC project coordinator. Westhoff abstained.

Health Department Director Teresa Starr told commissioners about a signal system to protect staff in cases where someone needs help, for lockdown or to leave the building. She also showed commissioners a poster about wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Galemore said he does not like the term “mandate” and favors saying officials support the wearing of masks.

Southern county resident LeRoy Burke addressed the commission during public comment with what he called complaints about the Neosho Ridge Wind project. He said there are 25 windmills within a mile of his house and asked Galemore to look at the area, and also said developer Apex is not taking care of the roads. Burke said some of the company’s pickup trucks were using roads that were not part of the designated haul route.

“They’ve done everything like a bunch of outlaws,” Burke said.

Galemore responded to comments made at the Dec. 30 meeting by former commissioner David Orr about Galemore’s position as county commissioner and pharmacist. Orr noted the county was a client of Galemore’s pharmacy. Galemore said he has been county pharmacist for 21 years, including before he was commissioner, and averaged receiving $80 per year, with $40 per year over cost for medicines.

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